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Accessible parking less accessible as construction temporarily moves spots

Accessible parking spots in front of Popplewell Hall will be cramped for a while until construction is finished.

Construction is currently underway on the parking lot in front of Popplewell Hall to level the parking lot, widen the sidewalk from three feet to four feet, fix cracks and curb cracks, and adding a sidewalk towards the south section of the parking lot to discourage students from walking in the driveway.

While construction is underway, accessible parking for students with disabilities is temporarily moved farther away from the entrance of Popplewell Hall. Faculty parking is currently closest to the entrance.

Construction started on Oct. 23 and is expected to be finished by the time students come back from Fall Break, which is from Nov. 19 to the 26. The bids for the parking spots were between 37 thousand and 38 thousand dollars and was funded by the parking lot operating budget.

Jerry Gentry, physical plant director at Missouri Western, said the parking lot construction was needed.

“On both sides it used to have about a six inch curb all the way around it and then every parking space it had these curb cuts, which is really, very inconvenient for anybody that’s ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] because you have to work around those curb cuts and they were in terrible shape,” Gentry said.

“They were crumbling, they were broke and they were cracked. There [were] pieces of concrete missing, there was rough surface terrain and it was only a three-foot sidewalk on both sides. So what we’re doing is we are putting a full four-foot sidewalk — we’re doing away with the curbs [and] lowering them to the same level as the parking lot, so regardless of where you’re coming off and on the sidewalk — it’ll be the same level.”

While working on the parking lot half of the lot is being worked on while the other half remains usable with some minor differences. The reason for why faculty parking was moved closest to the entrance is unknown.

“During construction we have to have that transition and we didn’t want to do both at the same time because then there would have been no place to park, so that’s why we’re doing it on one side at a time so at least we’ll have the option to still let people park there while we’re doing the work it should be fully completed– weather permitting,” Gentry said.

Mike Ritter, accessibilities resource coordinator, said that construction on Popplewell can prove to be a challenge for some students during construction but will overall be worth the wait.

“It’s always a concern when we take accessible parking spaces offline because they’re there for a reason. We’re required to have so many and then beyond that we create additional spaces when we see that need to have even more than what the law requires, and so that building in particular, because of its location on campus, is a spot where a lot of folks like to park since it’s kind of centrally located on a lot of buildings on this side of campus. Anytime we take any of those spaces away it has a potential to create a hardship and a real challenge for folks to find a place to park and be able to go to class,” Ritter said.

“Most parking spaces are not designed to accommodate somebody who uses a wheelchair, crutches [or ] walker or whatever, so there’s not enough space for them to get in and out of their vehicle because the spaces are right next to each other.  So the way we make those spaces accessible is usually putting them close to the door so it’s easier to get to the entrance, and then there’s usually an access aisle beside them so the person has plenty of space to get in and out.”


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